IT has been a staple of a public school education for more than 100 years.

Now sixth-form comprehensive students will be able to delve into Virgil and Seneca when a Latin A-Level comes to the school.

An A-Level in Latin is already offered at Wheatley Park School and has been for many years.

Cheney School in Headington will host the two-year course from September next year.

It will be held at the East Oxford Community Classics Centre, set up by education charity the Iris Project at Cheney.

Charity director Dr Lorna Robinson said: “It is an opportunity that isn’t there at the moment.

“There are no state schools in the county that are offering A-Level Latin.”

The centre opened in October to offer classics-themed workshops and events to the whole community.

The A-Level is planned for 4pm to 6pm every Tuesday and Thursday for all ages, with an entry requirement of grade B GCSE Latin.

The course will include study of Latin texts, translation of text and language practice.

Organisers say the qualification would be ideal for students considering a humanities and language degree.

Dr Robinson said: “It is fascinating. You get a much deeper understanding of the Latin language and the Romans.

“It is a really enriching thing to study and widely accessible.”

Classical-era culture will also form part of the A-Level, such as the study of Roman poet Virgil.

Events since October have included weekly beginners’ workshops in Latin and Greek and a talk on the Greek poet Sappho.

This year, Cheney offered a Latin GCSE along with Chipping Norton School, Faringdon Community College, Didcot’s St Birinus School, North Oxford’s The Cherwell School, Bicester’s The Cooper School, Wheatley Park School and Witney’s Henry Box School.

Sue Croft, headteacher at East Oxford’s Oxford Spires Academy, said: “It is an excellent idea. It is a wonderful group of volunteers who just want to bring the joy of classical language to young students.”

Asked why Spires did not offer the A-Level, she said: “You always have to consider the finances.

“Because it is a minority A-Level, you would have to have a large sixth form.

“Also, there are plenty of English A-Level teachers, but there aren’t a huge number of Latin teachers.”

Cheney head of history David Gimson said: “We are really delighted that the Iris Project is going to be offering Latin A-Level at Cheney, for all students across the city, from September 2014, and that Cheney pupils can be involved.

The centre was set up in collaboration with Oxford University.

  • Existing courses are free but the A-Level will have a small fee, to be determined. To express an interest, contact Dr Robinson at or Mr Gimson via 01865 765726.


  • Dulce bellum inexpertis – war is sweet to those who have never fought 
  • Absentem laedit cum ebrio qui litigat – to quarrel with a drunk is to wrong a man who is not even there.
  • Crede quod habes, et habes – believe that you have it, and you do.
  • De gustibus non est disputandum – in matters of taste, there is no argument.